Lymph nodes swollen (Lymphatic swelling)  (Lymphedema)

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Finding a good herbalist

Much of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

Lymphatic health

Lymph glands are like most things in our bodies in the sense that we never give them a moment's thought unless there is something actually wrong with them!

This article is not going into a description of the lymphatic system and what can go wrong with it but rather what follows are some effective, entirely natural strategies that have been seen to significantly help improve lymphatic function.


Immune health

Firstly, if you have chronically swollen lymph nodes or most other kinds of lymphatic system health issues then you can consider it highly likely that your immune system needs a helping hand in general.

Immune health is such a vital area that this website includes a detailed article on the subject including steps to help determine what areas may be causing a problem as well as what to do about it. Rather than replicate that information here, take some time to study the article in full and then what follows are some herbs and exercises that more specifically help lymphatic health. The immune article is here



As well as its deep involvement in immune health, the lymphatic system is also vital to removing debris from the tiny spaces between cells within the body and in many cases the main issue behind a chronically congested lymphatic system is a pressing need for internal cleansing.

An accumulation of toxicity in the body is a major contributor to many chronic illnesses and a consistent understanding throughout all the old systems of medicine is that, when needed, helping the body to cleanse can be the most important first step towards activating the healing process.

If you have a reason to believe that your system is likely to need cleansing, e.g. any kind of history of poor skin, bowel or kidney health, or if you simply feel that a build-up of congestion in general has had an adverse effect on your lymphatic health, then taking certain herbs and eating a cleansing diet may be essential, more here


Exercise and Massage

The blood vessels have the heart to both push and thereby also pull back the blood in a constant loop. The lymphatic vessels have no such pump, so how then how does its fluid move?

Lymph moves because we move, without movement there will inevitably be lymphatic congestion and swelling. If you have been exploring this area you will likely have already come across the practice of lymphatic massage, which is an excellent option if it is available.

For the most part, the best way to move the lymph is through movement. Any kind of exercise will help, for example walking or swimming are excellent however there is one movement that, by far, achieves lymphatic drainage better than anything.

The very best exercise for the lymphatic system is bouncing up and down! If you have a chronic condition then, if it is at all possible, procure something called a mini-trampoline, and start using it. Start with just a few minutes, jogging on the spot before you graduate to actual bouncing. It will get your heart rate up but it is extremely gentle on the joints. Even if you are advanced in years or are suffering from very poor health, this is a most safe and gentle exercise, and its beneficial effects will begin immediately.

an example of a mini-trampoline


Herbs for the Lymphatic System


Calendula is a gentle but still-potent lymphatic herb that is entirely suitable to use as a tea or a tincture internally for as long as needed, more here

Calendula officinalis



Cleavers is a potent cleansing ally for many common health problems, especially those that involve the lymphatic system, more here

Poke root

Poke root is the strongest of the lymphatic herbs but it must be used with great care and respect. Really it should be used with the guidance by a person who is familiar with the herb and who is experienced in the use of the particular extract that are using. The reason for this last point is that different preparations of Poke root may considerably vary in their strength and the level required for it to work is not so very far under the level that will cause toxicity. Only very small amounts of Poke root should be used and only when the severity of the condition warrants it, more here

Phytolacca decandra (Poke root)

Putting it all together

In practice, for a person with chronically swollen lymph glands I would likely use at least the first two and possibly the Poke root together in the same formula and in most cases I would expect to need to support their immune systems at the same time. We might come up with something that looked a bit like this

Lymphatic Cleansing Formula

Echinacea root 50mls
Astragalus root 50mls
Cleavers 40mls
Calendula 40mls
Licorice root 20mls
(optional Poke root 2-5mls)

This makes up approximately 200mls of the liquid herbal extracts/tinctures that we make in our clinic from the raw material of dried organic herbs and our own distilled ethanol and water.

Dosage is a crucial key to the success of herbal medicine, too little won't help and too much can overdo what the body can use to its best potential. The dose of this formula for an adult might be around 4 or 5 mls twice a day but honestly it could be half or even double that much depending on the person; how robust they were, how urgent was their need, how long-standing was their problem etc.

Echinacea here and Astragalus here are talked about at the beginning of the immune article linked again here, they are two of the best immune tonic herbs that we have. You can see some Licorice root, more here, in this formula, because it is also an important immune tonic, and because it makes the formula much more palatable!

Echinacea angustifolia

Constitutional Health Note

Finally, you might benefit from learning about your constitution to know what kind of foods, herbs, exercises etc. will work especially well for your health in general.

Constitutional health is an old and fascinating way of understanding our differences. There's a brief introduction here and a more detailed section on working out which constitution you are here

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!



© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd